Festival takes dance to the local children

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International Folklore Festival gives children a chance to dance

 The Billingham International Folklore Festival of World Dance gave youngsters an opportunity to join in with workshops, where they met performers from countries including Mexico and China.

One of the latest workshops saw 12 children from five to 15 years old, including some from Tees Valley-based dance school Tapshoes and Tutus, take part.

They were taught authentic dance steps and used percussion instruments, alongside the talented dancers from Mexico.

Chinese, Italian, Serbian, Philippino, and American performers are to hold similar classes.

The festival has also featured shows given by dancers from the Philippines, Chile, and Serbia.

Artistic director of the festival, Olga Maloney, said: “The crowds have loved it and the tickets have been selling great for the festival, which is known throughout the world.

“It’s such a great coup for the area to have such a prestigious and long standing global event held here.”

So far, hundreds of people have flocked to Billingham to watch the international dancers in action.

And as well as the shows, there are also a selection of workshops and children’s clubs, to bring an international flavour to local children.

Core funding for this year’s festival, which takes place until Saturday, has come from Stockton Borough Council, while Arts Council England is funding the contemporary elements of the festival and Awards for All is funding a programme to take dancers into care homes in the area.

On Friday, a World Gala Dance Concert, featuring all of the international performers, will be held at the Forum Theatre in Billingham, at 7.30pm.

The finale of the festival will be held next Saturday, starting with a farewell gala concert at 2.30pm, featuring all of the dance companies.

It will be followed by a mini-gala concert and closing ceremony at 7.30pm. More than 10,000 people are expected to watch the festival.

l For details, visit www.billinghamfestival.co.uk/store or call 01642 553 220.